Tanta French-style


I went to Tanta four times this week, which meant a daily dose of Peugeot. On Wednesday at the Aboud bus station I said to one of the drivers there, ‘Tanta, two people’ and he led Per Bjorklund and me to a microbus. I told him that I wanted to go by Peugeot.



He indicated the Peugeot in front and said to another of the drivers, “Fransaweyeen dool. El fransaweyeen mabye7eboosh el yabaany, beye7ebo el faransawy.” [They’re French. The French don’t like it Japanese, they like it French].



Ah bey7ebo el faransawy” [yes they like it French] the other driver replied conspiratorially.



While this may have been an innocuous commentary on the vehicular preferences of the Europeans, to “like it French” is also slang for – ahem – enjoying teeky-teek on all fours.



I was depositing myself in the back seat of the Peugeot, face-first arse-last (which somehow increased the trauma of it all), when this was being said, and was thus unable to fully gauge the tone of the conversation by scanning their no doubt smirking faces.



I explained the double entendre to Per, who said it had made him feel dirty before explaining that while they of course have a lexicon of dirty jokes like every nation, Swedish people are embarrassed by toilet humour – which I found astonishing coming from the representative of a people I have always associated with the frequent and untroubled removal of clothing in public areas.



I then asked how Swedish people swear at each other, given that profanity is one of the keys to understanding a national psyche. Apparently, Swedes do not involve their parents in the cursing of others, surely one of the few nations not to do so? Per said that if one Swede imputed lax morals to another Swede’s mother, the latter would probably ask why the first Swede is involving a 3rd party in proceedings which have nothing to do with her.

Which is surely the sensible response to be expected of a people which gave us elegant yet functional self-assembly furniture.



We then lapsed into silence as the Peugeot pulled out of Aboud, and my mind drifted to the trial, and yesterday’s proceedings, and miscarriages of justice etc.



“COCKSUCKER,” Per suddenly and violently exclaimed from nowhere, before explaining that said expletive is a popular term of abuse in Sweden.



(Aside for linguists/swearword enthusiasts: In Swedish it is Kojsoger or something approximating that. Probably with testicular umlauts somewhere).



The Mahalla 49 trial concluded on Thursday. The final verdict will be delivered on December 15th, but two of the defendants were released on Thursday. The police attempted to stitch Essam Ibrahim up by claiming that he’d stashed stolen goods in the address listed on his ID card. Alas the stupid lazy buggers neglected to check that he actually lives there: he hasn’t, since 2001, and this was proved to the court.



Essam Ibrahim



Ahmed Farhana had started shouting at the judge during Thursday’s session, in a slurred, distressed, drawl. “Ya 3am el 7ag el mo7ameyeen dool ana ma3arfhomsh. 3owez arawwa7…3awez arawwa7…” [Old man (I am stumped as to how to capture the meaning of 3am el 7ag here) I don’t know those lawyers…I want to go home…I want to go home…] Many of the people in the courtroom laughed at his outburst, including the judge. I found this unfathomable.



He was clearly mentally disabled – the lawyers say that he his mental age is much lower than his years – and unable to understand what was happening to him, never mind willingly and knowingly participate in a criminal conspiracy. Shame on the judicial/prison system for keeping him locked up for seven months.



Ahmed Farhana



A reader of this blog has inexplicably requested my thoughts on the Ghad party headquarters incident, possibly having confused me with that other legendary political pundit, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal.



I have very little to add, other than I woz there, but alas arrived 10 minutes after the fire was put out.



I arrived to chaos in Talat Harb Square, chaos of much lower proportions than it could have been because of the distinct and strange absence of a police presence to ensure complete pandemonium (see: the Shura Council fire. See: the April 6 clashes in Mahalla. See: any gathering of more than 15 Egyptians other than for a wedding or football celebrations).



When I arrived Moussa Moustafa and Ragab Helal Hemeida were standing in the square looking sheepish and telling everyone that Gamila Ismail had set fire to the Ghad HQ. I confess that before I arrived in Talat Harb Square I didn’t know who Moussa was, and was stumped as to why he would suggest that Ismail had torched her own flat. Which perhaps indicates the transparency of Moussa’s lie. Even an idiot could smell a rat.



On a side note I took an instant dislike to Hemeida because of the way he had done the buttons of his leather jacket right up to the neck, which gave him the look of Nehru crossed with a Croydon drug dealer. This is aside from the fact that he was spouting a load of shite about Molotov cocktails landing on his head, obviously.



Members of opposition parties in Egypt cannot fart without the immediate imposition of a security cordon. Which is why the occurrence of a near-riot in central Cairo involving flying rocks and the vandalising of buildings using blowtorches in the complete absence of a police presence is such a give-away. There are plaques all over Egypt – on university gates and tram stops and hospitals – proclaiming that Mohamed Hosny Mubarak opened this, or oversaw that. Moussa should have stapled one to his back. Organised crime indeed.



On Monday evening a DNE colleague and I went to Talat Harb Square to cover a solidarity protest with the Ghad party. The contrast in terms of a security presence couldn’t have been more marked. It was awash with plain-clothed policemen and security trucks.



We saw two women sitting on the pavement surrounded by about 10 men who then bundled them into a (police) microbus. When we stopped for half a millisecond to try and identify the women an extremely unpleasant policeman shooed us away. When we slowed down he proceeded to shove my male colleague, quite forcibly. Even Scandinavian Per said he was subjected to the shoving treatment when he tried to stand still and interview an activist. Needless to say, the protest never happened in Talat Harb, and was re-located to the (easier to contain) steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate.

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One Response to Tanta French-style

  1. Osiris Kane says:

    I didnt confuse you with Him, if i did give off the impression you have my apologies. You both are quite different you see..currently, with how the truth is spun and twisted to serve certain interests, alot of people would add their voice to mine when i say that currently, your attributes are alot more appealing than His. You report live from the scene, add your sharp witty remarks and writing style and we have the truth with a cherry on top..( the cherry being a pleasant read)
    So i hope this makes my request a little more “explicable”, and less sarcasm inducing.
    Thanks for catering to the requests of your readers..unlike Him you surely know how to keep loyal readers.

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